Petroleum exports to China rise in Q1 despite THAAD row

SEOUL-- Exports of oil and related goods to China increased 2.6 percent in the first quarter of 2017 from a year earlier in the face of an ongoing diplomatic tussle over the deployment of an advanced U.S. missile defense system in South Korea. industry data showed Sunday.

According to the data compiled by the Korea Petroleum Association, petroleum exports to China amounted to 22.48 million barrels in the January-March period, compared with 21.91 million barrels in the year earlier period.

In terms of value, exports of oil and related goods reached US$1.32 billion in the first quarter of the year, sharply up from $784 million a year earlier, the data showed.

The sharp rise in exports by value was mainly attributed to a jump in global oil prices, the data showed.

In particular, exports of diesel surged to 4.36 million barrels in the first three months of the year, from 2.22 million barrels a year earlier, the data showed

The steady rise in petroleum exports to the neighbor is mainly because of a supply shortage in China.

South Korea decided last year to host the missile defense system, called Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD), to boost defense against North Korea, but China argues that it is also aimed at Beijing.

China has taken a number of economic retaliatory measures, including restrictions on South Korean imports and Chinese tours to the country, as Seoul refused to give in to Chinese pressure to scrap the decision to host THAAD.

Meanwhile, overall petroleum exports reached an all-time high in the first three months of the year on firm demand and higher oil prices.

Oil and petrochemical goods exported by the country's four major oil refiners -- SK Innovation Co., GS-Caltex Co., S-Oil Corp. and Hyundai Oilbank Co. -- and others reached 117 million barrels in the first quarter of the year, rising 6.5 percent from a year earlier.

In terms of volume, the tally marks the highest for any first quarter, the data showed.

Given the current trend of rising oil prices and firm demand, exports of oil and related goods by the refiners may exceed $30 billion this year, the association said.

Source: Yonhap News Agency

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